Member of the month - October 2013
Ladies and gentlemen, please give a big hand to @alabamaseo , who is our latest star performer and the winner of October's Member of the Month award. If you're a regular in the Internet Marketing section, you've probably been impressed by his good knowledge and advice already, but now it's time to meet the real alabamaseo and find out a bit more about him...
So we know where you live and what we do for a living (or at least, we can have a good guess!), but who is alabamaseo as a person? Do you have a name, or are you here incognito? What do you like to get up to when you're not hanging out on Sitepoint?
I have many hobbies and interests outside of internet marketing. I really enjoy cooking exotic foods, especially from Southeast Asia, India, and the Middle East. I also really love different types of music. I am fans of artists in genres ranging from classical, to country, to Swedish death metal, and much more. I love going to concerts/music festivals, and exploring/enjoying nature. When I have time, I also really enjoy college football and learning about world and military history.
If anyone is curious, at http://alabamaseo.org/about-us/, I am the handsome guy on the right.
Can you remember what first brought you to Sitepoint? What made you stay?
I had visited Sitepoint many times via Google, but I decided to stick around because I really enjoy helping people work more efficiently in their internet marketing campaigns. There is a lot of misinformation out there about SEO, and I appreciate the opportunity to clear things up for many people. Sitepoint seemed like a good fit when I found it.
SEO is a difficult and often controversial field to work in. First of all, there's so much bad advice out there. How do you cut through that to make sure that you know what really needs to be done?
SEO is not as complicated as people tend to make it out to be. The most complicated part is learning how to look at the problem as “How to build credibility with Google” and “How to create valuable resources for visitors” instead of “How to trick Google into putting us at #1 for certain keywords”. I consider most SEO campaigns to be an exercise in credibility and authority.
By showing Google that our sites and our clients’ sites provide their users with quality, authoritative content relative to our targeted search terms, we give Google reasons to rank our sites highly for those keywords. We micromanage the sites and their content to make sure they provide visitors with what they are looking for, and Google tracks these signals.
Google does not want to penalize webmasters, they want to provide their users with the best match based on what keywords they are searching for. If you play by Google’s rules and help them to access and organize the information on your sites more readily, your sites will eventually be rewarded by ranking for relevant keywords.
...And second, the shysters and charlatans have given SEO a bad name, so how do you convince clients that you're the real deal?
There are many answers to this question.
The method that has worked the best for us in terms of making up for the bitterness left behind by another company is explaining SEO in terms that business leaders can understand. Very well thought-out proposals and action plans help people learn why Google ranks certain sites above others, we can help them understand why our strategies will work better than what they are currently doing or have done in the past.
We try very hard to not talk over people’s heads (doing so almost guarantees a bad impression), and we make it very clear that there is no secret to success other than good writing, hard work, and creativity. The key is to focus on how all this stuff effects a client/prospective client and their business rather than the technical side of things, the bottom line so to speak, make it impeccably clear exactly what they stand to gain and how it effects their business.
One of the most important steps when beginning a business relationship is understand the client’s terms of “success”. It is not uncommon for my team and our client to initially have very different goals in mind; after all, ranking is not everything and there need to be agreed-upon units for measuring success. By having a solid understanding of our client’s definition of success, we are in a much better position to keep them happy.
At the end of the day, we like for our clients to have a good understanding of our strategy, and they usually realize that they are better off with us than without us.
As a way to demonstrate transparency, we also do not require any of our clients to sign a contract (although we have in the past at the client’s request). We invoice our clients at the beginning of the month, and they continue to pay us as long as they are happy. This is usually comforting for clients who are skeptical about being locked into long-term agreements.
Although you make occasional forays into other areas of the forums, Internet Marketing has been where we've seen you most of all. How important do you think it is to specialise in a particular area of web work?
I think that specialization is very important. No one can do everything on their own; it takes teamwork to accomplish great things.
I am not even close to being the most knowledgeable internet marketer at Alabama SEO (our marketing firm). I have been blessed with a business partner who is a genius when it comes to internet marketing strategy (and about a dozen other things), and his oversight of strategy and client management allows me to spend more time (day-to-day) managing campaigns and developing websites.
Our team has a culture of pushing ourselves and trying to learn more every single day, especially in our areas of expertise within our firm’s division of labor.
It's your chance to change one thing about the internet ... what would you change?
I am a big believer in freedom of information. I believe that no government should be allowed to prosecute people or websites for assisting in file sharing (music, movies, and software included).
Times are changing, and I believe that people in these fields (I actually have a vested interest in the success of a musician here in Alabama) should be innovative and use their reach to make money instead of relying on the distribution of CDs, which is just unreasonable in today’s world.
Also, the profit margin on movies (even ones that bomb in theaters) is insane. No-one in Hollywood is starving.
It's your chance to change one thing about SitePoint Forums ... what would you change?
I would not allow people to comment on a thread unless they have read every post. It can be frustrating to post something that I view as meaningful, only see the next 3 posts be someone agreeing with the first post (which a lot of times is objectively wrong, due to a misguided poster who is relying on tactics that worked 2 years ago). It would require some custom coding, but it wouldn’t be too terribly hard to implement.
As you know, we don't normally allow people to plug their own websites, projects or services, but here's a unique opportunity for you ... plug away!
We have several projects in the works, but Alabama SEO is our bread and butter. Anyone who would like to discuss working together can contact me there.
Editor's note: alabamaseo has asked if he can add this in a couple of weeks when their new product is launched. The answer is ... of course!
And finally ... anything else you would like to add?
Thanks to all the admins, mods, and webmasters who organize and curate Sitepoint; we really appreciate your effort and the community you have created.
Aww, shucks, you didn't have to add that last bit in, we'd have given you the award anyway! But it's nice to be appreciated :)